The #gyncsm hashtag stands for gynecologic cancer and social media. Its use is intended to promote sharing reliable information and promoting community among people with similar interests in gynecologic cancer care.
Hashtags make information more easily searchable and sharable. The benefit of using #gyncsm is that is helps people find others with similar interests and concerns more easily. Creating community may help decrease a sense of isolation and provide an opportunity for stronger advocacy.
However, using these hashtags also means that you are sharing health information in a public forum. Whether it’s an isolated posted message, a tweetchat or a blog post, patients sharing health information means giving up some of privacy. Don’t share what you don’t want friends, family or employers to potentially be able to find.
If you want to learn without giving up your privacy, you can search for information with #gyncsm and ‘listen in’ or ‘lurk’ but not share. If you want to discuss more with someone off a public network, share your email or personal information as privately as possible (for example, send a direct message on Twitter).
Because the purpose is sharing but not medical advice, it’s best for all participants to understand that any information shared can’t be applied to medical decisions without reviewing with your own doctor. Clinicians often want to provide helpful information but can’t give medical advice on open social networks.
Virtual relationships are often as real as face-to-face relationships. The experience of finding so many others with similar stories and experiences can be very empowering. But keep in mind it also means you may find you know more people with serious health problems than you would otherwise offline, which can be upsetting. Everyone has to find the right balance of when online participation is helpful rather than harmful to her or his well-being.